A group of supporters of jailed Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma held a peaceful protest in the city today demanding his immediate release. Ledezma has been in detention – both in prison and at home following a medical procedure – since he was arrested on February 19 of last year over his alleged involvement in an alleged plot to overthrow the government.
Since his arrest, Ledezma’s preliminary audience has been postponed 10 times. Each time the audience is postponed, Ledezma spends more time in pre-trial detention, a kind of legal limbo that has the effect of punishing individuals who are legally innocent as their guilt has not been determined in court. Ledezma is scheduled to finally appear in court tomorrow.
His daughter, Antonietta Ledezma, spoke before the crowd that gathered in Chacao in support of her father, saying:
I call on the authorities to not defer my father’s preliminary hearing again. It’s been deferred 10 times before. There is no evidence, no motive; not even the government knows why Antonio Ledezma is in prison.
Antonietta also expressed frustration with what she called the “judicial terrorism” her father is being put through:
We don’t even know what time he will be taken [from prison to the courthouse] to the preliminary hearing. We don’t know if it’s a 2:00, 4:00, or 5:00 AM. We have absolutely no knowledge of what the procedure will be tomorrow.
Mercano: “We’ve Stopped Talking About the Future”
Minister of Communication and Information Luis Jose Mercano admitted faults with the way the PSUV speaks to the Venezuelan people, saying that the official state discourse “is worn out”. Speaking during a televised speech yesterday that aired on Televen, Mercano said:
Our discourse has probably focused too much on defending what we’ve built, and we’ve left behind talking to the people about the future to foster hope.
Ministers Finally Agree to Answer NA Summons
Speaking on behalf of Maduro’s entire cabinet, Minister of Communication and Information Luis Jose Mercano said that the ministers would finally speak before the National Assembly after abruptly cancelling their last scheduled appearance at the national legislature on January 21. Mercano said:
All the ministers will go [to the National Assembly] (…) the government is more than willing to go to the National Assembly and answer all of the concerns that the deputies have.
The National Assembly requested that several ministers whose offices are connected to the country’s economy appear before legislature on January 21 to answer questions about the economic emergency decree which was being debated at the time. After postponing their arrival from 10:00 AM to later in the afternoon that same day, the ministers simply failed to show up. Vice-president Aristobulo Isturiz said at the time that the ministers did not want to appear before the National Assembly because they considered the event to be “a show for the media”.
A similar snub happened on February 3, when the heads of the Banco Central de Venezuela, the agency in charge of currency exchange (CENCOEX) and the Minister of Finance failed to appear at a scheduled hearing at the National Assembly that day.
Mercano appeared to suggest that the ministers were no longer opposed to appearing at the National Assembly, saying:
We have absolutely nothing to hide and were going to go [because] we respect parliament.
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